KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine Saturday offered to send search and rescue teams to Japan and, if needed, to follow them up with nuclear accident control crews.
'We have an aircraft ready to fly, now, with about 40 rescue experts and their search dogs,' said Yulia Yershova, spokeswoman for Ukraine's Ministry of Emergency Situations. 'We are waiting for a request from the Japanese side.'
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych late Friday evening ordered his government to ready emergency response teams to be sent to Japan.
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a formal offer of assistance Saturday morning.
The top priority was helping to find people buried in rubble and providing them with food, shelter, and medical assistance.
Repairing damaged infrastructure was also critical, according to Yanukovych's executive order.
Talks were in progress between Ukrainian government agencies on readying teams able to assist with limiting the effects of a nuclear accident, should Tokyo request it, Yershova said.
Ukraine was the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident.
Ukraine's Ministry of Emergency Situations has led the national effort for controlling the effects of radiation from the disaster.